overground scene

…they don’t give me the chills anymore…

The title comes from the song ‘Αμνησία’ (Amnesia) from the greek punk/rock band “Τρύπες” (Holes). I discover that as I grow older, things that I want to love don’t give me the chills anymore. I never love “things”. I save feelings for people. However, I make an exception for music.

In 1995, I remember myself saying that if I died, I would like my family to play in my funeral the song “Life – another shape of sorrow” by Dismember. With other friends, we listened to “shadows in the deep” by Unleashed and we actually enterred the damp cave of the afterlife, encountering the grief of souls deceived by religions. We were actually terrified by songs like “Jumping at shadows” and “subconscious terror” by Benediction. We were getting depressed with “Icon” and “Draconian Times”. The eponymous song from the first black sabbath album was giving as the creeps, and when I would leave my friend’s house at 1 o’clock in the morning, I hoped I wouldn’t come across the figure on the layout! We were getting home from school and we would headbang for hours listening to Maiden (I always picked “the loneliness of the long distance runner“), Helloween, Savatage (the killer part in Strange Wings (at 2:15)!), Slayer and so on. Heavy metal, thrash, swedish death metal were in our minds and hearts 24/7 (hence the bad grades)! What happened and these scenes don’t give me the chills anymore?

To get one thing straight, I don’t say that I stopped loving all the forementioned bands. I still love them, listen to them, and go to the gigs. But when they release a new album … it just doesn’t feel the same. OK, I admit that some scenes like traditional heavy metal apply more to teenagers, mainly due to their simplistic lyrics and juvenile attitude and appearance. But what about death metal? Don’t let me get started on the revival of the old swedish death metal scene and crap like that. Bands like Kaamos, Bloodbath, and so on are plain ridiculous. But lets take one thing at a time.

First of all, bands that used to play old school swedish death metal at the same time created that scene! They didn’t say “Lets start an old school death metal band”! That was what they knew to do best and they did it. Bands that start to play old school death metal today are out of context. Old school death metal and contemporary times, are two incompatible things. Even in 10 years time, Bloodbath will not be old school swedish death metal. They will be a third wave brutal death metal band without an identity! The sole reason the first Bloodbath album sounds old school (and has some awesome ‘edge of sanity’ riffs), is Swano who is old school! Who are the other members? Did they ever do anything decent in the death metal scene before Bloodbath? The Opeth guy has always been a ‘Swano wannabe’. He replicates Swano’s voice and with his band (i.e. Opeth) he proposes things incoherent, some of which “Edge of Sanity” and “Panthymonium” did In the early 90s! Other new bands that say that they play old school swedish death metal, are in my eyes bands that study old death metal bands, like british kids study in their schools how to become successful pop-rockers. You don’t learn how to play old school swedish death metal.

Of course, it is obvious that for more than 10 years, playing death metal means making a lot of cash. That’s how the exponential expansion of the death metal scene, especially the technical american one, the past decade is explained. Technique and professionalism of course killed death metal. It made it devoid of emotions and friendly to the masses. Anyone who is a passerby in the scene or music in general, finds it easy to like new death metal because it has “proved its worth”!!! Its technical, so I should not feel ashamed listening to death metal anymore! I will refer in more detail to this issue in a post in the future though… My point now is that the guys from Bloodbath clearly made that band to gain extra cash. Other bands reunite, or play “like in the old times” because it sells.

However, this post is about a personal problem, that is that I can’t relate to and love the things I was supposed to love. Well one of the reasons I don’t like the new swedish death metal scene is because it is a fake one. Another reason the scenes I loved in the past are unable to give me the chills anymore, is because, as I mention in an older post (i.e. Internet and Demystification), these scenes are demystified. The more mainstream a scene becomes and the more access to information about the bands’ personal lives is granted, the more the image of the rebellious youth that plays extreme music and wants to shake the moral foundations of society and shock, is destroyed.

Another issue is that the death metal scene, in contrast to what most people believe, has always been a highly comercialised and conventional scene. This means that death metal musicians like other metal musicians want to become rock stars! Maybe an even more “masculine” version of past rock stars but definetely rock stars. Further, record companies view them as and promote them to be rock stars. Bands want to make more money, companies are interested in maximising their profit. Even with bands like “Dismember” who never became extremely successful, it is evident that they did not have freedom of expression inside their company. In the DVD ‘live blasphemies’, members of the band explain how Nuclear Blast wanted them to sound like Entombed (Wolverine Blues era) on their new album. Of course Dismember, could not sound like Entombed because they listen to completely different music (Dismember listens to british heavy metal, Entombed listens to Punk and alternative bands), and so they released the masterpiece named Masive Killing Capacity.

The reason why today american (and european) death metal bands play hyper-fast technical brutal death metal is because of a historical event! The fact that a couple of bands like Nile and Suffocation became really successful! In the past bands played technical death metal as well, but they sunk and hit rock bottom. Who remembers Oppressor a band really ahead of its time, or Broken Hope (GODS!), or even Disincarnate? They all played technical death metal but they did not cause a revolution in the scene. None copied them. These bands did not become rich. Thats why kids did not become obsessed and did not start playing like them. But Nile and Dying Fetus, were obviously fabulous (until 2000!), and happen to have lived in a time where information is easily passed around, so they became successful. All kids fueled by their desire to (and the high possibility of becoming) become famous, accompanied by record companies’ desire to maximise profit, led to a homogeneous, fake, emotionless scene of technocrats playing brutal death metal.

There, I said it! Because of the nature of the music business, styles and scenes that persist are fake and not interesting! A scene that is original is original only for a few years. A handful of bands start a new scene, like with the old swedish death metal scene. At that time, the bands are playing what they want with themselves making the rules. If this early scene produces profits for the record company, that means that the record company will advertise that style of music. Thenceforward the scene will become both boring and later on fake. Boring, because bands will become bored of playing the same thing over and over, but will be forced by their company and fake because new bands will learn how to copy the original sound (like Bloodbath and Kaamos). If this scene does not produce profits, it will cease to exist, like the old swedish death metal scene, which by the mid-nineties had vanished.No wonder why I am not interested in the contemporary swedish (or american for that matter) scene. The same goes for the contemporary punk scene. I still listen to the old bands playing but it still does not feel the same.


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